At least 313 indigenous communities are mostly affected by lack of food caused by the drought which has affected Paraguay since the end of November 2011.
President Fernando Lugo, a former Catholic bishop, signed a decree on January 17 declaring a food emergency for 90 days. About 110,000 people, belonging to twenty impoverish native ethnic groups living in the eastern and western regions of the South American country are those mostly affected by the drought and ensuing famine.
The scarcity of rainfall has also caused a series of fires that have destroyed thousands of acres of pasture, thereby reducing food for animals. Another concern is the lack of sufficient potable water for domestic use, which may cause the spread of diseases related to the use of polluted water.
The presidential decree orders the government to take all necessary administrative and financial measures to provide an immediate response to problems related to food production. Drought affects mainly the cultivation of soybeans, the main economic export of Paraguay, as well as cotton, corn, sesame and peanuts. Commercial shipping is also impossible due to low water levels in rivers.